Since Tekken 7 release, Vincent "Super Akouma" Homan is one of EU top players. After qualifying himself three times in a row for the Tekken World Finals, he had high expectations for 2020. But COVID-19 forced Bandai Namco to cancel the World Tour. We'll came back on what happened during this weird year.
How did you react when Tekken World Tour 2020 was cancelled ?
It was awful. I'm putting my life into this game for several years, and I had to pause everything. If we kept in mind that esport careers aren't always very long, many questions came into my mind, even if stopping playing is not something I would do in a near future(laughs). Pro players had to stop acting like pro players, and had to focus more on content creation. With the online Tekken had, it was horrible. I totally stopped streaming the game, because of it.
How do you stay at the top during this pandemic times ?
As an Akuma player, playing online would have been the worst for me. Akuma requires high execution, and playing him online makes you take bad habits, which could lead to defeat during offline tournaments.I had at least one training day per week with Banbino, the player I used to practice with for several years, and Daniel Madonia (famous italian player) came in September to train. Let be honnest, I'm not sure who benefited it the most, because I was a bit rusty. We had several big training sessions, the longest was 16 hours long.
Is Tekken Online Challenge a good alternative to Tekken World Tour ?
To me, it was the best possible call. On the otherside, we saw that Capcom took a different path, trying to maintain Capcom Pro Tour, even if it was online. That leaded to some horrible matches, thanks to the poor netcode SFV got (Tekken 7 netcode wasn't better at that time), where everyone was able to see the lags on stream. While Tekken Online Challenge avoid making people fight if they don't live close to each other, and we got some exhibition matches. It's obviously less prestigious than Tekken World Tour, but looking back at 2020, it was the safest decision both for the players and the audience.
Why did you not compete in the tourney where french people had the opportunity to fight ?
In one word : ONLINE. Early 2020, I made several online tournaments, like Red Bull's Take Down the Crown. It was quite similar to Tekken Online Challenge, but the winner was coming back the next week to protect his crown. I won 4 or 5 times in a row, before losing to Chickenmaru. Even if I don't want to say that I lost only because of netcode, while Chickenmaru player really well, but the truth is that watching the replay put in evidence that there were combos that wouldn't have dropped in offline. Losing a tournament is always hard, and losing because things were beyond my control is worst. I wouldn't be able to endure it during one year, so I stopped competiting online.
But you finally had a showmatch against Daniel Madonia during Tekken Online Challenge. How did you get in this spot ?
Maybe you noticed that Tekken and I shared a little story. So Bandai Namco thought it would be a good idea to see me play a bit (laughs). Seriously, it's just classic thing. I received a mail, I answered yes, they put me in a discord with other organizers and players, them they told us who will fight who.
Even COVID-19 can't stop the tiers list, and in 2020 two original characters were on the top of them : Leroy and Fahkumram. Does an original fighter have to be top tiers to become popular ?
According to me... Not at all. Leroy hyped the community only with his trailer. His charismatic look and the fact that he is a Wing Chun fighter, were enough. Wing Chun is a martial art from South China, and was prohibited for several times in Japan. This is why we have very few Wing Chun fighter in fighting games. But it was too much for Leroy. I didn't forget EVO Japan 2020 where 6 players in top 8 were playing Leroy, while we had 120 Leroy players during the tournament. The numbers are big enough to point an issue. Fahkumram was also strong, but differently strong. The character was different between his reveal and his release. He got bigger, because community feedback said that his in game size was smaller than his video size. But changing the size of a character in a fighting game leads to balance issue, for obvious reasons (reach/ hitbox/hurtbox etc). I need to clarify that this is just a theory, we don't really know what really happened to him, just that he got bigger in game between his reveal and his release. The most frustrating point with Fahkumram is that some classic combos who worked on each fighter, didn't work on him, while his hurtbox should allow them to work. Leroy ruined EVO Japan 2020, but Fahkumram ruined all the year. That's sad because many players hate them, just because of that.
Did season 4 balanced this 2 fighters ?
There were previous nerfs before S4. But both characters were still very strong, and they got nerfed again in S4. Leroy is still very interessing, having his own style. I didn't play enough as or against Fahkumram in S4 to get a clear idea, but he unherited big nerfs. I hope he is still decent, because it would be sad to see this character not having a chance to compete in a real Tekken World Tour.
How is Akuma in Season 4 ?
I don't like the changes they made. His base damages got nerfed, especially without walls. His neutral is buffed, with increased reach on D4/DB4. DF1 applies good pressure, and his 50/50 close to a wall are more difficult to predict. His new move is an anti-anti-air with some invincibility frames, and I don't think players will use it often. Akuma's execution was nerfed too, and this is what I don't like. Just frames combos deals same or less damages than a combo with an EX Tatsu, which is easier to execute. As a player, I want to be rewarded when I do something perfectly, and this won't be the case anymore. Overall Akuma is a bit nerfed in S4, which was deserved. Akuma is still a very strong character, and I will keep him as a main, but that were not the changes I wanted.
What does a fighter require to be played at the highest level ?
Simplicity and efficiency are the key words. And best available moves of course (laughs). We can take Kazumi and Miguel as exemples. Both are neutral oriented fighters, and Kazumi got the best options so she's the one most played. Miguel is not a bad character, but Kazumi does things better than him, so top players who want to play around neutral main Kazumi and not Miguel.
Early 2020, you showed an interest in Granblue Fantasy Versus. Might you compete on another scene ?
I don't think I'll practice a game as I had practiced Tekken. GranBlue was here when I wanted a fighting where I could be good (as casual player) without having to spend hours on it. Being much simpler than other Arc Sys games, Granblue was perfect. I had a lot of fun without tryharding, but I won't go further. I also keep an eye on Guilty Gear Strive news, even if both this licence and BlazBlue got the reputation of being hard games both to learn and master.
CRaZY Esport renamed in Crazy Esport Bretagne (French region, while Super Akouma lives in Provence), will it change something for you ?
Nothing. I stay both in Crazy's team, and Marseille. But the deal Crazy made with Bretagne region might benefit me indirectly, allowing me to compete in more tournaments so I'm really happy, even if, sadly, I won't be the main beneficiary (laughs).
Any projects for 2021 ?
I stream some Tekken 7 on my Twitch channel, and I became the first Akuma in the world to achieve Tekken God Omega rank during a LIVE. Season 4 and rollback made Tekken streamable again, and this is for the best. As it is impossible to know how things will evolve in 2021, I won't say anything else on my projects, but I hope to compete in official tournaments.
Any last word ?
Be happy. That makes you better at fighting games, I won my first tourney several days afer dating my actual girlfriend, five years ago. It's a bit thanks to her support that I'm able to win tournaments. Feeling good brings you serenity, and I think this is my biggest strenght, before having a good execution and a broken character (laughs). I don't want to hurt people who are not happy right now, I know it's not that easy. I just wanted to end this interview with postive vibes after this though 2020 year.
The UK player, who describes himself as a casual online player, finally achieved Tekken God Omega rank on November 12, 2020. This rank was added in Tekken 7 season 4 update, released on November, 9. He did it with Bob, his main character.